Boys Varsity Football · Friday football preview: Dragons at Pendleton Heights


The Hoosier Heritage Conference lead is on the line Friday as the 5A No. 1/1 New Palestine Dragons visit the Pendleton Heights Arabians in a battle of unbeatens.

Game details
New Palestine (4-0, 2-0 HHC) at Pendleton Heights (4-0, 2-0 HHC)
Date: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14
Site: John Broughton Field, Pendleton (directions). PARKING NOTE – Parking is extremely limited due to construction. Enter from the north off SR 38. Tailgaters are asked to use the lot next to the tennis courts and park as far north as possible (click here for parking lot info from PHHS).
Admission: $5 (presale link)
Broadcast

  • New Pal Radio (link to listen or click the embedded link below). Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.

Game preview (click for pregame media notes & media guide)

SETTING THE SCENE

The HHC’s two remaining unbeaten teams square off with conference supremacy on the line. Both teams are coming off shutout victories last week – the Dragons beating Mt. Vernon 64-0 and PH beating Greenfield-Central 50-0.    

NP is 18-13 all-time in the series, which has been played annually since 1994. The Dragons have won six straight meetings since 2013, and 16 of the last 18 games. NP is 7-7 all-time at John Broughton Field. NP won 41-21 last season, with Luke Canfield rushing for 305 yards and four touchdowns.

This game features two of the state’s top offenses. NP averages 63.25 ppg, second in the state to Pioneer (66.0). PH is 11th in the state in scoring at 45.25 ppg.

DRAGONS NOTES

The Red Rage posted its second shutout of the season last week with its 64-0 victory over Mt. Vernon. NP held MV to 46 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers. The Dragons scored their first defensive TD of the year when C.J. Faubion recovered a fumble in the end zone. Maxen Hook and Brody Luker had interceptions, while Ryker Large recovered a fumble. Faubion’s fumble recovery was the Dragons’ first defensive TD since Jordan Shanahan on Oct. 14, 2016.

Junior RB Charlie Spegal passed the 5,000 yard mark for his career with a 261-yard performance at Mt. Vernon. Spegal has 5,173 yards for his career and 830 this season. He has rushed for 21 touchdowns this year after a six-TD performance at MV. Spegal leads the nation with 21 TDs and is fifth in the state in rushing yards.

NP is now plus-10 (11 takeaways, 1 giveaway) in turnover ratio this season.

The Dragons are No. 1 in the IFCA poll for the fourth straight week and in the AP poll for the third straight week.

Senior WR Colby Jenkins has 1,214 career receiving yards. He needs 56 to pass Jay Ehle and move into third place.

Jenkins (7-137, 2 TDs) is one of three Dragons with 100+ yards receiving, joining sophomore TE Matt Brown (6-132) and junior WR Maxen Hook (4-108, TD).

Senior QB Zach Neligh has thrown for 2,365 career yards. He needs 417 to catch current assistant coach Gary Greene and move into fifth place. Neligh has completed 27 of 32 passes this season, an 84.3% completion percentage.

Junior K Alex Kropp is 32-for-32 on PATs and 3-for-3 on FGs this season. He has hit field goals in each of the last three weeks, with a long of 32 in the rain last Friday.

The Dragons enter the evening with 49 straight regular-season wins. A win tonight would pass Seeger for fifth-most in state history. The state record is Penn, with 89.

SCOUTING THE ARABIANS

PH is 4-0 for the second consecutive year. The last time the Arabians had back-to-back 4-0 starts was 1997-98.

Led by Duke commitment Eli Pancol, the Arabians have been high-flying on offense. Pancol has 13 catches for 282 yards and six TDs. He and Anakin Allison (9-195) have been on the receiving end of the majority of Christian Conkling’s 586 passing yards. Kamden Early (431 yards, 6.3 ypc, 6 TDs) is the Arabians’ top rusher.

Conkling threw for 185 yards and a TD, while Early ran for 101 yards and three TDs in last week’s 50-0 shutout of Greenfield-Central. It was PH’s first shutout since Aug. 23, 2013.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Dragons return home next Friday to face Greenfield-Central for homecoming.

FOLLOW US

All Dragon games are broadcast on New Pal Radio – search for it on TuneIn.com or the TuneIn app. NPHS Athletics is on Facebook (NewPalestineDragons), Twitter    (@NPHSDragons) and online (NewPalestineAthletics.com).